NOPD 8th District Commander investigated for excessive force

NEW ORLEANS The newly-promoted NOPD 8th District Commander, Octavio Baldassaro, is under investigation for the way he subdued a woman on North Peters Street during French Quarter Fest.

Cmdr. Baldassaro leads the police district that includes the French Quarter, making his position one of the most visible and important positions in the NOPD– for locals and tourists alike.

According to NOPD Communications Director Andy Cunningham, Superintendent Shaun Ferguson has opened a “formal disciplinary investigation into the actions of (Baldassaro) after reviewing video of the incident posted to social media” on Sunday.

In the video, Commander Baldassaro appears to throw a woman to the street, twice, before other officers arrive to handcuff her.

In a press release from the NOPD to the media on Monday,  Cunningham says that officers “were attempting to stop a physical altercation” between two women, and that Baldassaro’s actions are being investigated as a “Level 1 Use of Force.” Cunningham did not say in the release what type of force is “Level 1” —  or what disciplinary action Baldassaro might face.

Two women were arrested in the incident, Taylor Bruce and Torian Lewis, both in their 20’s and both charged with disturbing the peace.  But Taylor Bruce also faces charges of resisting an officer, battery of a police officer, and tampering.  She’s apparently the woman seen in the video, scuffling with Cmdr. Baldassaro as he tries to subdue her.

Supt. Ferguson released a statement saying that the NOPD is “taking this incident very seriously.. (and) is committed to conducting a fair and impartial investigation.”

Ferguson promoted Baldassaro to the top job in the 8th District less than three weeks ago.

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